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Business News/ Companies / Start-ups/  Amazon set to bring Launchpad to India

Bengaluru: Amazon’s India business, which is aggressively expanding its fashion and consumer products categories, plans to unveil its global programme for start-ups called Launchpad in India within the next two months, three people directly aware of the company’s plans said.

As part of the Launchpad programme, Amazon globally showcases consumer products from start-ups to customers through its online marketplace.

In India, however, the programme will function slightly differently. Amazon will not just showcase products from start-ups but also from other traditional offline brands, as part of its private labels push, the people mentioned above said. All of them requested anonymity as these discussions are confidential.

“As far as Launchpad is concerned, the approach for India will be slightly different compared to other countries. Their approach here will be two-pronged. Firstly, they want to showcase all new B2C (business to consumer) products from various start-ups and FMCG brands, ones that already have an online presence. Secondly, they want to showcase B2C products from brands that only have an offline presence," said an executive familiar with Amazon’s plans.

Amazon has already initiated talks with a number of consumer start-ups and brands and has even finalized a few of them for the Launchpad programme, the people mentioned above said. Start-ups and brands such as lingerie start-up Buttercups and energy snack bar brand Yoga Bars are among those that have come on board, the people mentioned above said.

The companies on-boarded under the Launchpad programme will also get marketing support from Amazon, with the Seattle-based company choosing to waive off any advertisement fee for the first three months, said a second person aware of the company’s plan.

The company is also planning to launch subscription services for some of the FMCG brands under this programme.

“With Launchpad, Amazon will offer subscription service for FMCG brands, which will make the brands a part of the consumers’ monthly basket, which is what any manufacturer wants to be," this person added.

The Launchpad programme is already active in the US, where it exists as an online storefront that showcases new consumer products from start-ups. Globally, Amazon works with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, crowd-funding platform Indiegogo and start-up accelerator Y Combinator to identify potential start-ups that can be brought under the programme.

“If the aim of the Launchpad programme is to get start-ups and other small and medium businesses which are in the consumer business on board, who would have otherwise got lost in the huge seller ecosystem, then it is a brilliant idea because the product these companies are bringing out is unique. They could have earlier come as sellers on Amazon. But then, they could have gotten diluted in the overall crowd," said Sreedhar Prasad, partner, e-commerce and start-ups, KPMG in India.

“The impact for Amazon will be incremental, but will definitely have high importance for start-ups as they are getting access to Amazon’s customer base without spending much money. The mass market access should propel them," he added.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on future plans. Buttercups and Yoga Bar founders declined to comment. The third person cited above said the Launchpad programme is part of Amazon’s broader private label push in India.

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Updated: 27 Oct 2016, 04:35 AM IST
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